The video game industry has seen a series of ups and downs over the last decade. On the one hand, major game studios have produced titles that have brought a huge amount of joy and entertainment to millions around the world.
On the other hand, there has been a noticeable jump in rampant monetization, half-finished releases and a host of other controversies that we will be looking at in this article.
The GTA Casino Finally Opening
The recent opening of The Diamond Casino & Resort, which has had an “Opening Soon” sign hanging over its doors for the last five years, has caused a bit of stir in the video game world.
The casino operates on GTA$, which can be bought for real money, so, in many ways, The Diamond Casino & Resort allows you to gamble with real money.
While the inclusion of a functional casino in a video game certainly drew criticism from certain circles, Rockstar was quick to point out the fact there was a significant crossover in the video game and online poker markets and that many of the same people who enjoyed their games could also be found playing online poker.
They also pointed out that GTA$ can be earned in-game, rather than bought, and that the game was aimed at adults, who can mostly legally gamble anyway.
After working hard to bill Anthem as the next iteration in how we play video games, Electronic Arts, hardly anyone’s favorite publisher, and BioWare, a sad shadow of the company it once was, struggled through predictable development hell to push out a box of broken scraps to all those who had already pre-ordered it.
No amount of patching was going to cover this gaff and it was clear that the game was nowhere near ready to play. Fan backlash was furious, but many had already paid upfront for the game and many more were unable to get refunds, even when the game had so many crashes that it basically didn’t work at all.
No Russian, No Good
An oldie but a goodie, Modern Warfare 2’s No Russian mission saw you gunning down fleeing civilians in a fictional Russian Airport.
Of course, people were unhappy with a game asking you to play out an attack on innocents less than a decade after September 11th and, in light of the increasing number of terrorist atrocities since, this one has not aged well.
Street Fighter X Tekken Selling Your Own Game Back to You
Capcom’s 2012 Street Fighter X Tekken decided to short cut the normal process of cutting already developed chunks out of a finished game to sell them as DLC by just including them on the disk and selling players access to a game they had already bought.
Unsurprisingly, fans were furious at the idea that they had brought a game, only to have to pay again to play all of that game, and equally unsurprisingly, Capcom was almost entirely unapologetic.
Star Wars Battlefront II and its Loot Boxes
Battlefront I is remembered as a great FPS/space shooter for all those lovers of the Star Wars franchise, whereas Star Wars Battlefront II is remembered as an utterly consumer-hostile display of loot box monetization by a developer clearly putting profit ahead of their game’s ability to entertain.
The furor that erupted after it became clear that blind boxes were the only way to access crucial upgrades and certain characters ended up with EA explaining to congress that a blind box, a spinning thing that you pay money into in the hope that the right pictures come up and so give you a reward, was not a very slight variation on a slot machine, and was, in fact, a “surprise mechanic”.
While this rampant disregard for a customer base might have represented a turning point for the implementation of loot boxes in video games, that came as very cold comfort to the gamers who had already sunk their money into buying the game in the first place.